Mac Powerbook 12" hard-disk surgery

On Sunday I replaced the hard disk in my powerbook, according to the instructions here. Everything went well up to

Pull them out very carefully, as there are very thin cables on the connectors.

It turns out that there are very thin cables on the connectors. Now, I had the good fortune not to break any of these thin cables. What I did end up doing was accidentally removing the entire power connector socket from the motherboard. This was far, far easier than it should have been:

  1. The solder holding the socket to the motherboard was bad, and the socket was very loose to begin with; and

  2. The plug inserted into the socket was jammed tight. No force on Earth was going to separate that plug from its socket. (After it was thoroughly removed from the mainboard, I figured there was no point in being delicate, so took a couple of pairs of pliers to it to try to get the plug and socket separated. No luck. It may as well be glued shut!)

In desperation I googled around trying to find something to avoid consigning the whole machine to the tip. I found this, a more professional (and slightly more accurate) version of the same hard-disk replacement instructions. Note particularly the warning on this page,

The cables you’re about to remove are very fragile - do not pull directly on the wires. Instead, try to pry up the connector directly, using your fingernails or a small flathead screwdriver if necessary.

Yeah, no kidding.

So, now I have a Powerbook, with a brand-new working disk, that I can’t switch on — at least not while the keyboard is connected. Shorting the traces on the motherboard with a screwdriver caused it to power up, boot correctly, and happily wait for a login from the non-connected keyboard, but I don’t really want to try my luck by turning it on and then reconnecting the keyboard while it’s running (and never switching it off again). Neither are my soldering skills good enough to attempt soldering a new connector onto the (very small) traces on the circuitboard. I guess my options are either find a soldering expert, or discover some way of switching the machine on without using the power button.

In hindsight, what I should have done (and this could be added as a hint to the two how-to pages I linked to above) is to cut the power wires to avoid having to pull out the plug in the first place. Once the hard-disk was replaced, it would have been a simple thing to solder the wires together again, or to add a simple in-line jumper to allow future removals of the top panel.